Joe Biden and Boris Johnson Formally Agree a New Atlantic Charter
- G7 Summit takes places today in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, described by the Prince of Wales as a ‘game-changing opportunity’
- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls US President Joe Biden a ‘breath of fresh air’ during yesterday’s talks, signing a new Atlantic charter
- Mr Johnson committed to finding a solution to the Northern Ireland protocol
- Mr Biden pays tribute to the Queen
- UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirms that the Delta variant causes 90% of COVID cases in the UK
Ahead of today’s highly anticipated G7 summit held in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, US President Joe Biden, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed a new Atlantic Charter on Thursday. The charter is an agreement between the two countries, vowing to work together on various high priority issues. The term ‘Atlantic charter’ is a nod to the agreement forged between Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt back in 1941.
A joint statement from the two leaders stated that the charter sets out a global vision to deepen cooperation in democracy. Priorities for the US President and UK Prime Minister will tackle climate change and ongoing health threats.
Mr Johnson stated that the meeting further reaffirmed the relationship between the UK and the US. Meanwhile, Mr Biden commented that the agreement covered critical challenges of the century, from cybersecurity to global health.
There were concerns that the Biden administration would view Mr Johnson as a ‘mini Donald Trump’ given his close relationship with the former US President. However, reports indicate that the two sides found plenty of common ground, further strengthening the US/UK alliance. Mr Johnson has been avoiding using the term’ special relationship’ to describe the US/UK alliance, believing it to depict the UK as needy, using ‘partnership’ instead.
Whilst Mr Johnson is hopeful that the UK will soon establish a free trade deal with the US, the Biden administration has frequently stated that this is currently not a priority. Instead, there was significant discussion on the resumption of quarantine free travel between the UK and the US. However, the progress of such matters could be delayed by the rise of the Delta variant across both countries.
G7 summit prepares for mass protests
As the leaders prepare for today’s G7 summit, security for the event has been elevated over concerns of mass protests from movements such as Extinction Rebellion and Kill the Bill. Action already appears to be underway as this morning saw Ocean Rebellion, a breakaway group of Extinction Rebellion, protest on the beach regarding polluted oceans.
A spokesperson for Ocean Rebellion stated that there is still time for leaders to reverse the catastrophic effects of climate change and to cut ties with fossil fuels if they act now. The group are calling for G7 countries to place oceans at the top of their priorities and to place a global emergency ban on bottom trawling, which a fishing method involving weighted nets across the seafloor to catch increased numbers of fish.
Recent research suggests bottom trawling emits more carbon dioxide than the whole of global aviation, highlighting the urgency of the issue. In addition, the Marine Conservation Institute in Seattle has emphasised the environmental impacts of overfishing, catching more fish than the ocean produces and stated that 90% of global fish populations are fully fished or overfished.
The Prince of Wales, an advocate for environmental change and sustainability, will lead the way for talks on tackling climate change during today’s summit.
Prince of Wales hails G7 summit as a game-changing opportunity
Today, the ‘group of 7’ (G7) countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US, will meet in Cornwall. The meeting will be the first time the G7 countries have gathered together since the coronavirus pandemic.
The Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will all be in attendance during the Friday evening summit reception. This event will be followed by a meeting hosted by Prince Charles involving the G7 leaders to discuss solutions to the climate change crisis.
The Prince of Wales has hailed the G7 summit as a ‘game-changing opportunity, helping to create unity amongst governments to conquer pressing issues. Prince Charles made the comments to chief executives and business leaders, including fashion designer Stella McCartney. The Prince of Wales went on to say that through working together, the help of all governments could ‘move mountains’.
During the beginning of 2021, Prince Charles launched a Magna Carter style agreement inspiring the private sector to protect the planet by becoming more sustainable and invest GBP 7.3 billion in ‘natural capital’. ‘
US President Joe Biden paid tribute to the Queen yesterday ahead of their meeting at Windsor Castle on Sunday on what would have been Prince Philip’s 100th birthday. Mr Biden offered his condolences to the Royal Family, highlighting that the Duke of Edinburgh’s presence would be missed by many that day.
1 billion vaccines to be provided to developing countries
In addition to climate change, the G7 summit will also focus on providing additional coronavirus vaccines to developing countries. Major economies have come under fire for taking the bulk of coronavirus vaccine supplies, further widening the divide between wealthy and developing nations.
During today’s discussions, the G7 countries will expand on plans to vaccinate the world against Coronavirus by the end of 2022. UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is expected to reveal plans to donate 100 million surplus coronavirus vaccines over the next 12 months. US President Joe Biden will also unveil plans to purchase 500 million coronavirus vaccines to contribute to developing countries during 2021 and 2022, labelling the move as a humanitarian obligation.
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) has already reserved 100 million COVID-19 vaccines to be distributed to African countries by the end of 2021. This week, French President Emmanuel Macron said he would push other G7 countries to accelerate the distribution of vaccines to African countries to reach 40% immunisation for 2021 and 60% during Q1 of 2022.
The UK, US and EU are in ‘complete harmony’ to finding Northern Ireland protocol solution
Yesterday the Irish Prime Minister or Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, praised the news of US President Joe Biden’s disapproval of the UK dishonouring the Northern Ireland protocol. Mr Martin spoke highly of the US President, highlighting that the US and Ireland share common values of democracies and the encouragement to work towards a sustained agreement.
The UK government left the EU discontented after extending the grace period of goods entering Northern Ireland from the UK earlier this year. However, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated the UK, US and EU are in complete harmony to find a solution to the Northern Ireland protocol.
There were concerns that tensions could be raised during Mr Biden and Mr Johnson’s meeting yesterday, given the US President’s adamance that the UK should honour the Northern Ireland protocol. Mr Biden considers the Northern Ireland protocol to coincide with the Good Friday Agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement and holds a particularly strong stance given his Irish heritage.
Despite reports that Mr Biden would pressure the UK Prime Minister to honour the agreement, Mr Johnson confirmed after the meeting that this was not the case and downplayed any Brexit concerns. The issue may have been raised had the pair conducted a joint press conference, which is usually part of the schedule. However, the two sides agreed that the UK and EU had a responsibility to find a pragmatic solution to the protocol, with Mr Johnson stating that he is committed to finding a resolution.
The UK Prime Minister confirmed that upholding the Belfast Agreement was a priority and was firm common ground between the two countries. Mr Johnson claimed beforehand that Brexit would not be a primary discussion within the talks, stating that the ‘lemon has been sucked dry’.
That being said, Mr Johnson is likely to face opposition during the G7 summit, particularly from French President Emmanuel Macron. This week Mr Macron described the UK as not being serious regarding finding a solution to the Northern Ireland protocol. Speaking at the Elysée in Paris this week, Mr Macron argued that the UK was not serious about revisiting topics in July finalised last December after years built up discussions.
Regarding the UK extending the grace periods of goods sent between Northern Ireland and the UK, Mr Macron said if the UK cannot respect what was initially negotiated, nothing can be respected. Following these comments, the French President and UK Prime Minister are to hold upcoming bilateral talks to resolve the conflicts.
As the UK prepares to engage in discussions to resolve ongoing post-Brexit woes, the Delta variant also continues to cause concern for the country.
Delta variant causes 90% of COVID cases in the UK
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock recently stated that the Delta variant is now the cause of 90% of COVID-19 cases in the UK. New data reveals that the number of Delta variant cases in the UK, a strain of coronavirus originating in India, now stands at 42,000.
The Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, is believed to be significantly more transmissible than the original strain of COVID-19. Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, stated that coronavirus vaccines are our best chance of combatting the variant. Whilst the vaccine does not eliminate the disease, it significantly reduces the chance of infection.
As of the 9th June 2021, 61.3% of the UK population received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and 43.3% have received both doses. It is currently unclear whether the UK Government will delay the full reopening of the UK economy, though reports have stated that they are keeping an open mind.